Could my french relative have an Irish father?

He's called Count Pierre Chevalier de Forney 1695-1725. There's a note in my records that says the name used to be Ferney before the family moved to Alsace-on-the-Rhine. That's Irish or Scottish. What if Pierre's dad came from Ireland and fought in the kings army and settled down? Would that explain it? or should I just disregard the name change? I guess Pierre was a hugeonot so he had to leave France. That seems strange after he received such a fine title, right? I don't know if he inherited it, though. What do you think?

2 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
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    It looks like your Forneys came from the Alsace Lorraine region of France, which straddles France and Germany, although Palatine Germans and French Protestants immigrated to Northern Ireland (among other places) because of religious persecution; for example, Richard Nixon's ancestors were Palatine Germans who moved to Ulster before they immigrated to the American colonies.


    Records available over the Internet also show no evidence that the Forneys originally moved to France from Ireland as you have suggested, even though the Irish and the Scots did serve as mercenaries in various European countries during both the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Usually, however, they didn't melt in with the local population, but maintained their separate identity, often moving back to Ireland or Scotland after several generations spent on the Continent.

    The de Forney family was driven from their chateau most probably around 1725, although Louis XIV had evoked the Edict of Nantes protecting French Huguenots on 22 October 1685. At some point in time, the name changed to Forney (pronounced "Fahrney"), so the Germans in Alsace Lorraine could more easily pronounce it. At some point in time, the family also lived in German-speaking Switzerland.

    The founder of almost all American Forneys, Jacob Forney, or as he was listed at the time, Jacob Faree, first immigrated to Pennsylvania in September 1739 aboard the Friendship, landing in Philadelphia. Upon reaching maturity, he returned to Alsace, Lorraine, to procure his legacy, even though he most likely had an older brother that he followed to Pennsylvania. In September 1752, Jacob returned again to Pennsylvania; and in 1752, he and Mary Bergner left Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, which was certainly an area of intense German settlement, to move to Lincoln County, North Carolina. Here again, it can become confusing, since many French Protestants in both Pennsylvania and the Carolinas within a few generations intermarried with the Scots-Irish. Occasionally, they intermarried with the Scots, who on the whole tended to be a little more clannish.

  • 1 decade ago

    It is a possibility. Countless Irishmen served in European armies.

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